Game Week: South Dakota

A preview of Oklahoma’s first game against South Dakota.

Just like that, we are back on to the next game. While short weeks are usually concerning in football, the lack of rest doesn’t matter much as FCS South Dakota comes to Norman.

Folks, this one is gonna get ugly.

Meet the Coyotes

Let’s start with some basics: South Dakota is not North Dakota State, the well known powerhouse of the Dakotas. Nor are they the South Dakota State Jackrabbits, the more well known FCS team in South Dakota.

When you are potentially the fourth best team in the Dakotas, that’s cause for alarm.

Look, I know the whole “aNy GiVeN sAtUrDaY” thing is real (lol @Tennessee) and you should never overlook any opponent, but South Dakota also got whooped 31-14 in their first game by Montana, who would actually be a FCS team worth worrying about.

Who to Watch For:

I’m Not Going To Waste My Time On This One

Seriously, South Dakota is not good.

Why You Should Be Excited

Okay, I know the lead up hasn’t posed this as the most tantalizing game. Sure, LSU-Texas is on at the same time. However, I’m actually excited to watch this bloodbath!

The reasons to have interest in this game start and end with getting your first look at the future of OU football. For those unaware of the greatness of this spring’s recruiting class, there is a lot to be excited about, namely the #1 quarterback in the country, Spencer Rattler along with receivers Theo Wease, Trejan Bridges and Jadon Haselwood, all three of which were ranked top five in their position.

While we saw some of the wide receivers get some burn last game, this will be our main chance to see the youth movement in full force and potentially one of the only times we see Rattler all season. This group has been so hyped for so long and getting to see them all play together early will be an absolute treat.

Series History (First Meeting)

OU famously does not tend to schedule FCS teams due to the fact those games are pretty much just win column fodder. South Dakota is only the fourth FCS to play the Sooners since 2000, with the last meeting coming in 2012 with Florida A&M.

Nothing really interesting happened in any of these games, so I’ll just go ahead and stop writing.

Game Week: Houston

A preview of Oklahoma’s first game against Houston.

At long last, here we are folks: it’s football time in Oklahoma!

The off-season was a brutal one too: the Thunder took an early hammer to their roster, the last season of Game of Thrones sucked, and I graduated into a cold, unforgiving world.

But thankfully, football season is here to make everything right again*! And for Oklahoma, what a cooler way to start than with a Sunday Night Primetime game against a good opponent?

Meet the Cougars

After a brief two year hiatus from relevance, the Houston Cougars are looking to make another run at a New Year’s Six bowl. Former West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorson is aiming to turn the program around after the massively disappointing Major Applewhite era. 

Much like 2016, this Houston team is an offensively scary team entering Norman with upset potential. All eyes will be on this game, as it is the only one on Labor Day Sunday. Once again, the Sooners must be ready to go from the first snap. No easing into this one.

Who to Watch For:

#4 D’Eriq King, QB

Talk about a tough first task for Alex Grinch’s newly implemented Speed D. D’Eriq King is coming into 2019 with Dark Horse Heisman hype, and it’s easy to see why. King is a duel threat QB with plenty of speed and arm strength to make this a long day for the Sooners. This is the perfect stage for a player like King to get placed directly on the college football map. 

As we have noted many times on both this blog and The Schooner Pod, OU is historically awful against mobile quarterbacks and King might be one of the best we see all year.

Why You Should Be Excited

Other than the obvious “it’s game one!”, this is an incredibly intriguing first game for the Sooners. 

Houston is a great first opponent and one that shouldn’t be a total pushover like most game ones tend to be. Add in the debuts of Jalen Hurts, Speed D and the fantastic New Wave ‘19 recruiting class, there is plenty of good football to be thrilled about. 

As for the atmosphere, the energy will be next-level stuff. From the ultra-rare Sunday game, to the White Out, to the debut of in-stadium alcohol and of course, A LATE KICKOFF, there is no reason this atmosphere shouldn’t be an all-timer. 

Series History (OU Leads 2-1)

Despite being pretty close in proximity, OU and Houston have a very limited history. While the Sooners two wins in the series are relatively uninteresting, the one loss still is pretty fresh.

That game of course was the 2016 season opener loss at the extremely cursed NRG Stadium. Fresh off a Playoff appearance the year before, Baker Mayfield and the Sooners came out flat with the offense never quite clicking. 

Houston and then-head coach Tom Herman seemingly got every break at every turn, while OU couldn’t stop shooting themselves in the foot. The turning point came when the Cougars brought back a kick-six in the third quarter. Immediately after, the Sooners coughed up the ball within their own 50 to give Houston prime field position for a score. 

OU got it together and made a small rally toward the end of the 4th quarter, but it was too little too late. This loss, along with the Ohio State L two weeks later, would lock the Sooners out of the Playoff despite going undefeated in conference. While Ohio State was a game that went decisively to the Buckeyes, this loss lingered as a major “what if?” as Houston would prove to be just mediocre at best. 

Tom Herman, Ed Oliver and Greg Ward Jr. might be gone, but this is a retooling, dangerous team. And while Dana Holgorson has yet to beat Oklahoma as a head coach, he’s gotten closer than most. The Sooners will need to show up if they want to avoid repeating history. 

Game Week: Miami v. Florida

Get hype everyone – IT IS (kinda) GAME WEEK!

Football season is back on Saturday, courtesy of a rare Week 0 matchup between in-state rivals, Miami and Florida (Hawaii and Arizona are also playing, but let’s be real, this one is way more interesting).

Sure, neither team is in the Big 12 or has anything to do with this year’s OU team, but football is back and this is the only good game on, so we are giving this moderately interesting non-conference game the full Game Week treatment.

Series History (29-26-0, Miami)

When you think of rivalries in Florida, more than likely Florida State is involved. The Seminoles play both Florida and Miami yearly in two of college football’s biggest rivalries, which begs the question: why don’t Miami and Florida ever play?

Unfortunately, the rivalry between Miami and Florida, like so many others, is one that has been buried in the sands of time by conference expansion. From 1938-1987, the Canes and Gators played each other yearly, completing the triangle of hate in Florida. However, the SEC’s expansion to 8 conference games forced Florida to choose between non-conference foes Florida State and Miami.

They stuck with the Noles.

Despite being two of the major powerhouses in Florida, this is only the seventh time the Gators and Hurricanes have met, with two of the meetings occurring in unplanned bowl matchups. Prior to ending the yearly matchup, the series was somehow even closer than it is now: Florida held a 25-24 edge.

Since going dormant, Miami has dominated the series, going 5-1 in the previous six matchups, mostly thanks to the combination of the Hurricanes early 2000’s dominance and the dreadful Ron Zook era of Gator Football. The one win Florida captured? A 26-3 spanking in Tim Tebow’s 2008 national championship season.

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Two UF Players Paddle The Canoe. Courtesy, University of Florida

Probably the biggest casualty of the rivalry going dormant is the loss of one of the best rivalry trophies in College Football: the Seminole War Canoe, which is a strange name for a non-FSU related trophy. The canoe is full-sized, six feet long, hand-carved, and I cannot stress this enough, sourced from a 200-year-old tree that was struck by lightning. In a true act of cowardice, Miami has retired this trophy as “it was intended for the home and home series” and did not give it up after their 2008 loss to the Gators. Free the canoe, you cowards!

Despite the lack of contests, this is very much a heated rivalry. While it might be one of College Football’s biggest Cold Wars, Saturday gives the two sides a chance to vent some emotion on a neutral site.

Franks

A Look At The Florida Gators

Florida is coming off a red hot first season from head coach Dan Mullin, who took the Gators from a 4-7 record to a 10 win season in just one year. The Gators season was capped by a 41-15 Peach Bowl beatdown of the Michigan Wolverines. While the leap back into relevance was impressive, can the Gators take the next step and become a threat to take the SEC?

The Gators offense is anchored by the much-improved quarterback, junior Feleipe Franks. Much like Florida as a whole, Franks ramped up production under Dan Mullin, throwing for 24 touchdowns, up from a measly nine in his first season. Helping Franks out is a stable of receivers and tailback Lamichel Perine, who yes, is related to former Sooner back Samaje Perine. Florida’ O-Line is losing four starters from that Peach Bowl-winning unit. On defense, Florida swarmed the ball last season, racking up the 7th most turnovers in College Football. Their corners are staunch, young and impressive, as is tradition.

While the Gators have improved, getting past Georgia in the East will be a tall task, as well as any potential SEC Championship matchup against Alabama. I’m not fully sold on Florida being a legitimate SEC and Playoff threat, but if they continue their development ahead of schedule, lookout.

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A Look At The Miami Hurricanes

After their revitalization in 2017 under Mark Richt and the Turnover Chain, the Hurricanes promptly decided to collapse in a way rarely seen in College Football. While the chain remains, Richt bailed on his alma mater at the end of last season.

The replacement? Manny Diaz, who was the Hurricanes defensive coordinator under Richt, taking the head coaching reins for the first time in his career.

Miami’s offense was a lackluster mess in 2018, headlined by a revolving door of mediocrity at quarterback. The much-hyped transfer of Ohio State quarterback Tate Martell was supposed to signal a quality change in the position; he didn’t even win the starting position. Instead, sophomore Jarren Williams will have to lead the Canes this season, who has shown promise in his days as a prospect but has extremely limited snaps.

This is a major season for Miami in order to keep any momentum potentially lingering around the program. Their defense will need to take over games in order for the Hurricanes to do anything substantial in the ACC.

The Case For Why You Should Root For…

Florida

Miami and Oklahoma have long had a hated past with each other. The Canes famously toppled the Sooners in several pivot games throughout the 1980s, oftentimes being the single thing standing between Barry Switzer and more national championships. While the swaggering days of “The U” remain just a benchmark yet to be reached, those cueball helmets with the two-tone U  still make the blood boil for OU fans of a certain age.

As for Florida themselves, they have that great OU connection with Lamichel Perine, as well as the fact that Miami is unfairly having a very cool boat kept from them.

Miami

We’re all sick of the SEC narrative right? A Florida win here would put a major feather in the SEC’s non-conference game before Week 1 even starts. Plus, while the Gators still have plenty of hurdles to go before being a real CFP threat, a Miami win here would damper Florida’s resume if they did end up performing well in the SEC.

As for reasons to actually like Miami? Well…

Oh look here’s a Tebow highlight!


First Game Week Blog is in the books!

Stay tuned to The Schooner Blog this week as we get closer to Week 0 of College Football and OU’s opener against Houston on September 1st. Make sure to subscribe to our podcast, The Schooner Pod, available everywhere you can find podcasts and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to get updates whenever we post blogs, pods and other bits of content.

Game Week: The Orange Bowl (Alabama)

You always want games like this.

Nobody gets hyped to see your team thump some hapless scrubs from a directional college or the resident conference cellar dweller. At a school like Oklahoma, especially during a run like this, you almost expect to win every game. We are just cut from a different cloth than most programs.

Alabama is not one of those programs.

The Sooners and Crimson Tide can go toe to toe on almost any category. These two programs are as prestigious as any you can find in the sport. We are the big boys, the bullies, the despised schools that roll into town and ruin your tailgate and laugh at your upset hopes.

Alabama, however, hasn’t just been the bully of the SEC; they’ve dominated the sport for a decade and look to be far from finished. Kyler Murray and the Sooners have a unique opportunity ahead of themselves to have a chance to defy the odds, topple the Tide and prevent the dynasty from consuming yet another season.

Ever since the Sooners took out Alabama in the 2013 Sugar Bowl, there has been an underlying sense of longing for a rematch on a championship level stage. Considering that Alabama struggles against great quarterbacks, the thought of seeing a Lincoln Riley offense unleashed on Bama made OU fans salivate. Yet every year since the stars failed to align – until now.

You want Bama? You got them on Saturday.

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Meet the Crimson Tide:

Alabama football under Nick Saban has put together a decade of success the likes of which we’ve never seen before in this sport. The Crimson Tide have not just been good; they’ve been transcendent. Cold, calculating and systematic, they acquire number one recruiting classes and national championships in droves.

With a ruthless offense to match their deadly defense, Alabama is a team with few flaws. While their schedule hasn’t been the toughest, the way they dispatch opponents with ease turns the legs to jelly. I don’t need to say much about these guys other than they are firmly the real deal.

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Who to Watch For:

QB #13 Tua Tagovailoa

Has there ever been a more obvious “who to watch for” than Tua Tagovailoa? Throughout most of the season, Tagovailoa was the clear clubhouse leader in the Heisman Trophy race before our very own Kyler Murray nudged out ahead of him in the final weeks of the season. Tagovailoa might be one of the best quarterbacks we’ve seen in college football in a long time, with elite size, arm strength, and all-time great efficiency.

While Tua had a bit of a dip in production in his final few games, he was hindered by an ankle injury, which he had surgery on following the SEC Championship. From all available reports, he should be healthy and ready for the Orange Bowl, but it’s always hard to tell considering the long layoff. Backup Jalen Hurts, who led the Tide in their comeback against Georgia, is a solid quarterback. However, their trump card has been played: OU will have a game plan for both quarterbacks in place (not that it might mean much).

Alabama has a juggernaut in nearly every facet of the game (seriously, how can’t they get a kicker?) for years, but Tua puts them over the top, leading an offense that can stack up with the cream of the crop in the Big 12.

WR #4 Jerry Jeudy and WR #17 Jaylen Waddle

As deadly as Tua is, Alabama’s backbreakers come in the form of an electric receiving duo in freshman Jaylen Waddle and Biletnikoff Award winner Jerry Jeudy. Their game film is absolute nightmare fuel for the Oklahoma secondary as they are not only technically good but also blazingly fast. Waddle, a former OU recruiting target, is deadly in the open field and will make keying in on Jeudy nearly impossible.

Series History (Oklahoma, 3-1-1)

Despite Oklahoma and Alabama’s rich individual histories as two of the top five all-time college football programs, the Sooners and Tide have only met five times, with Saturday’s meeting being the first with national championship implications.

JFK orange bowl

Alabama’s lone win came in the 1963 Orange Bowl, which was also the first meeting between the Sooners and Tide. Despite the game being as star-studded as possible with all-time great coaches in Paul “Bear” Bryant and Bud Wilkinson, an eventual NFL legend in Joe Namath and freaking John F. Kennedy in attendance, the game was a dud with the Crimson Tide blanking OU 17-0.

After a mediocre 1970 Bluebonnet Bowl matchup that ended in a tie and nobody cared about it would take another 32 years for the two teams to meet again. While 2002 was only sixteen years ago, things are wildly different. Back then, Bob Stoops was starting his fourth season as head coach, Alabama was in the middle of probation and trapped in mediocrity and Nick Saban just a year away from winning his first national championship at LSU.

In the first game of a historic home and home, the Sooners survived a late comeback bid under a sweltering Norman sun, 37-27. In between games, Alabama fired not one, but two coaches after new hire Mike Price was caught in a Pensacola, Florida strip club. In the second game, the Sooners once again staved off an Alabama upset bid with help from an OU fake punt. Both games had strange atmospheres as both teams invaded each other’s stadium, with the visiting team wearing white for contrast.

The most recent meeting between Oklahoma and Alabama was easily the most memorable one: the 2013 Sugar Bowl. The Crimson Tide entered the game one kick-six removed from making a third straight national championship, while Oklahoma weaseled their way into the game after upsetting Oklahoma State in Stillwater after a legendary final drive. On paper, this OU team was beyond outmatched; we didn’t know who would they would play at quarterback until the first snap. Through excellent offensive play design, an inspired defensive performance that seems decades ago and one of the most inexplicably fantastic games from quarterback Trevor Knight, the Sooners pulled off a massive upset over one of the best teams in Alabama history.

Once again, the odds are against Oklahoma. If they want to take that next step and get back to the national championship for the first time in ten years, they will need to pray for a little old school Sooner Magic.

Game Week: Big 12 Championship (Texas)

Remember how you felt on the afternoon of October 6th?

The sickening feeling in your gut as that field goal sailed through the Cotton Bowl’s southern uprights? The numbness as you watched Austin Kendall randomly trot out for a desperation touchdown attempt? The burning anger as you listened to the burnt orange throngs of Longhorn bellow out “OU SUCKS” at the end of their fight song?

Walking out of the Cotton Bowl after a loss to Texas is one of the worst feelings as an Oklahoma football fan. It feels like all the hype of the season up to that point of the day just collapses on you, with no shot at redemption until next October.

Until now.

Yes, the Sooners get another shot at Texas and the stakes have never been bigger. While the State Fair, Big Tex, the Cotton Bowl, Corny Dogs and the Golden Hat will have to wait for next season, this game still features what this hallowed rivalry really boils down to: Oklahoma, Texas, and ol’ fashioned split crowd full of pure hatred.

However this time there is an added twist, a ghost pepper thrown into an already scorching pot of chili. If OU wins, they are all-but returning to the College Football Playoff. If they lose, the season is not only a bust but they would have lost to Texas again. For both, the winner gets to celebrate a Big 12 title in front of their most hated rival.

The loser takes the most gut-wrenching walk of their life.

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Meet the Longhorns:

A few weeks ago, this game looked incredibly unlikely to happen. After losing two straight game to Oklahoma State and West Virginia, Texas needed the Mountaineers to have a late season collapse to make the Big 12 title and to win out themselves. The Horns got their wish: West Virginia blew close games to both the Cowboys and Sooners to end the season. The Horns took care of business against Iowa State, thumping the Cyclones in Austin and wrapped up the season with a struggle-win against Kansas.

Texas has looked a little different since the first Saturday in October. Quarterback Sam Ehlinger, who torched the Sooner defense with his legs, hasn’t looked quite the same all season. The defense has been porous at times. In general, they aren’t quite back like we thought they were.

Don’t fool yourself; these Horns are dangerous. The quarterback running game is still there, as are receivers Lil’Jordan Humphrey and Collin Johnson. The defense can still be stingy at times. This needs to be an especially inspired and passionate performance from the Sooners for them to take home their forth straight Big 12 title on Saturday.

Who to Watch For:

WR #84 Lil’Jordan Humphrey

All season on The Schooner Pod we’ve discussed how big receivers are the biggest factor when discussing things that break apart the Oklahoma defense. There is no receiver in the Big 12 more suited to wreak havoc against the Sooners than Lil’Jordan Humprey and you don’t have to take my word for it.

Look at the tape from earlier this season and you’ll see why L.J. is a terror; the guy just simply is too big to cover for our receivers. I don’t really know how to fix this; this man will just play bully ball. I suppose you take your chances and scrap when he scraps. Look for him and Collin Johnson to give you plenty of headaches on Saturday.

QB #11 Sam Ehlinger

Just as I said in October, Ehlinger isn’t exactly a great quarterback. With that being said, he is the perfect fit for punishing the Sooner defense. In October, Ehlinger’s running game was the factor that pushed both the game and Mike Stoops over the edge, rushing for 72 yards and three touchdowns. While he is struggling with a shoulder injury, expect to see him run the ball often.

As far as passing goes, Ehlinger doesn’t need be great, but just good enough. His receivers (mentioned above) are big enough to cover up any accuracy issues that he may have. In the Red River Showdown he torched the Sooners for 314 yards and two touchdowns. For the OU defense to be successful against both him and this Texas offense they will need to put pressure on Ehlinger and confine him to the pocket.

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Series History (Texas, 62-46-5)

This is gonna be a weird one. Not only was the last time the Red River Shootout was played outside the Cotton Bowl was 1923, but this game’s venue, AT&T Stadium (aka, Jerry World) couldn’t be more different. The Cotton Bowl is in the middle of a state fair; AT&T Stadium is in the middle of $60 parking. The Cotton Bowl struggles to have working plumbing; AT&T Stadium has 18 different art installations. You get the gist.

In my biased opinion, I think AT&T Stadium is a soulless corporate hole of venue, while the Cotton Bowl is holy ground that should be protected at all costs. The split on ideology of whether or not to move the main game from the State Fair has been heated already and will only grow hotter after Saturday’s game. I don’t know whether or not fans will warm up to the new digs or immediately miss their Corny Dogs and demand the Big 12 Championship move to Fair Park.

The one thing we know for sure? This will be something the likes of which we’ve never seen before.

Game Week: West Virginia

Friday, November 23rd

7:00 PM, ESPN

It’s here.

Since the schedule came out way back last Fall this game has been circled in red with a double underline. A road trip to Morgantown, on Black Friday, against a high level quarterback and surrounded by a sea of screaming blue and gold fans jacked up on Mountain Dew and moonshine (and not that store-bought swill, either).

Throughout the season, as the Oklahoma defense struggled throughout the season, West Virginia always loomed as the monster under the bed, ready to tear apart this defense like cheap, wet toilet paper. Dread it, run from it, the game against the Mountaineers still arrives.

So here we are. While it isn’t a guaranteed rematch like we once thought, thanks to a Mountaineer collapse last week in Stillwater, the stakes could not be higher. For both teams, win and you punch your ticket to Arlington for December 1st’s Big 12 Championship game against (barring what would be the funniest loss of all time) Texas.

Lose and you are out. No four-peat shot for the Sooners. Another squandered chance at Big 12 glory for the Mountaineers.

Here’s the thing though; Oklahoma thrives on pressure. We live for games like this, mocking Big Game Bob/Little Game Lincoln monikers be damned. The Sooners haven’t lost a true road game since 2014. In the Lincoln Reilly era (2015-pres.), the Sooners are 11-1 against ranked Big 12 opponents, which includes a 56-28 trouncing of West Virginia in a top 10 matchup in Morgantown. When things get tough in the regular season, the Sooners usually show up. With the Mountaineers looking vulnerable against Oklahoma State, there is more than enough opportunity for this OU team get a big win in Morgantown.

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Meet the Mountaineers:

8-2 (6-2)|AP #12, Coaches #12, CFP #9*|

West Virginia has had a bit of a wild season. The Mountaineers got off to a big start, routing Tennessee 40-14 in Charlotte. This was supposed to be one of two Power Five matchups this season, but their game with North Carolina State was cancelled due to complications due to Hurricane Florence.

In Big 12 play, the Mountaineers have been mostly impressive, with a few significant hiccups along the way. Led by a potent offense, West Virginia has scored 35+ points in all but one game this season. The outlier was a 30-14 loss in Ames where the offense absolutely sputtered under the pressure of the Iowa State crowd. They responded well afterwards, winning an emotional 42-41 game against Texas in Austin behind the heroics of quarterback Will Grier, who ran in the game winning two point conversion with under a minute left.

Up until a week ago, the Mountaineers were ranked 9th with long shot Playoff hopes still intact.

Who to Watch For:

#7 Will Grier, QB

Other than OU’s Kyler Murray, Will Grier has easily been the second best quarterback in the Big 12 and a Heisman candidate in his own right. Armed with a high powered offense, Grier has thrown for 300+ yards in all but one game, all while staying highly efficient. While he is not a threat to run, the Florida transfer is the best pocket passer in the country and is primer to carve up this Oklahoma defense.

#17 David Sills V, WR

As Grier’s number one target, David Sills V is going to be a problem for the Sooners. While his numbers are down from last season, Sills is a dangerous receiver that can break out for big yardage. He isn’t big, but as we saw with Oklahoma State’s Tylan Wallace and Texas Tech’s Antoine Wesley, elite small receivers are a massive threat to the Sooners. Expect a career day from Sills if things aren’t fixed.

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Series History: 8-2 (Oklahoma)

As West Virginia has only been in the Big 12 since 2012, there is not a very deep history between the two schools. As non-conference foes, OU and WVU split the series at 2-2, with the most notable Mountaineer win coming in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl. However, West Virginia is winless against the Sooners as a member of the Big 12 and is the only team in the conference to have not beaten every conference team at least once.

The closest the Mountaineers got was in 2012, where West Virginia running back Tavon Austin ripped off an ungodly 572 all purpose yards between rushing, receiving and kickoff returns. The Sooners led at half 31-17 before the game turned into a shootout for the ages. Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones dominated, throwing for 544 yards and a then Oklahoma record six touchdowns, including the clutch game winner to Kenny Stills 24 seconds left in the game on 4th and 3.

With these two great offenses meeting in Morgantown six years later, one has to imagine that Friday’s game might be a shootout much like 2012. While much of the season has been spent analyzing the deficiencies of the Oklahoma defense, there is only one thing that matters: preventing “Take Me Home, Country Roads” from playing after the game.

Now that would be a critical stop.

Weekend Spread: Week 12

Bobby: 5-3 (46-41)

Jamison: 5-3 (42-45)

Blake: 5-3 (46-41)

Last Week

#12 Syracuse v. #3 Notre Dame (ND -9.5)

Bobby: I cannot express how badly I want Syracuse to beat Notre Dame. One out of Clemson, Notre Dame or Michigan need to lose for OU to have a window of getting into the College Football Playoff and if you ask me, this is the best shot we have. Clemson ain’t losing in the weak ACC and while Michigan still faces a tough challenge from Ohio State at the Horseshoe next weekend, a Buckeye win would just swap them with the Wolverines.

However badly I want Syracuse to win, they most likely won’t. They have a worse S&P Defensive rating than OU, for God’s sake. With that being said, the stars might be aligning here for a close game with ‘Cuse’s ranking, ND’s crappy Yankee uniforms and just the weirdness of it all. Syracuse, +9.5 

Jamison: I would LOVE to see Syracuse win this one. This game is the biggest one to watch for Sooner fans. Great 1:30 kickoff (thanks NBC).

A huge dilemma for me in picking this game, due to Blake’s saying of “look good, play good”. Notre Dame’s Yankee inspired uniforms are atrocious. One would think that since they look good, they would play bad. I think that trend breaks on Saturday. Notre Dame’s performance vs. FSU last Saturday really pleased me. Ian Book has been their glue, and without him, with a QB who threw multiple picks, they still looked dominant. Give me Notre Dame by 17. Notre Dame, -9.5

Blake: I am a big uniform guy and over the past few weeks I have been picking winners like no other solely based on the uniforms that they have worn. Barry Sanders throwbacks (winner), Tech Black Raiders (winner), and the Sailor Bear helmet (winner). When you got that icy drip, you are going to 100% play better. It’s just a fact.

The opposite is true as well; Notre Dame’s uniforms for this game are booty. I don’t know who thought mixing a baseball jersey and football jersey was a good idea, but well it is happening this Saturday. There is no way you can win in these uniforms, they are that bad. Dino Babers is the man and will not allow these trash uniforms to beat him. Syracuse by a million. Syracuse, +9.5

#24 Cincinnati @ #11 Central Florida (UCF -7.5)

Bobby: The UCF story just won’t end. The Knights clearly aren’t a good team as they produce struggle win after struggle win against mediocre American teams. While Cincy comes into this one with a Top 25 ranking, I think the Gameday effect pushes the Knights over the hump just enough to cover. Just stay away from this one. Central Florida, -7.5

Jamison: Cincy, my adopted #2 team from middle school. I remember the good ol days with Tony Pike and Marty Gilliard. They were a fun team to watch, until Tim Tebow destroyed them. UCF’s defense has been atrocious, and I have a feeling this will be a shootout. UCF by a touchdown. Cincinnati, +7.5

Blake: I can’t believe we actually have to care about this game. UCF is not good at all. But yet since they whine so much on Twitter, we have to discuss them each week. There is no scenario in which UCF should be allowed in the playoff. There conference sucks, their strength of schedule sucks, they should not be allowed to get in the playoffs just because they are trucking crappy teams. The CFP through fairness out the window when Baylor or TCU was not allowed in the playoff in 2014, so there is no way UCF should ever get a shot at the thrown.

I heard this idea this week though and I absolutely love it; if there is not going to be an 8-team playoff, there needs to be a mid-major playoff. There is nothing I want more than watching UCF, UAB, UNT, and Troy battling it out to be the top mid-major program. It would be a cash cow and a gamblers paradise. Until that happens, give me Cincy so UCF will finally shut up. Cincinnati, +7.5

USC @ UCLA (USC -2.5)

Bobby: While I was initially thinking USC, after thinking about it more, I think I like UCLA. The Bruins have slowly (VERY slowly) been improving, while the Trojans just bombed against Cal last weekend. Chip Kelly gets his a signature win. UCLA, +2.5

Jamison: My brain is telling me to pick USC, but its too much fun to pick against USC. UCLLLLLA had its skid this year, but they are beginning to cover spreads and show some competitiveness. USC and UCLA are both teams with talent, but are not utilizing it this season. I am rolling with UCLA due to them being at home, and USC playing a QB that should be a high schooler, and only knows how to throw to his Mater Dei teammate Amon Ra St. Brown. UCLA, +2.5

Blake: WHY IS THIS GAME ON THE PICK EM SLATE!?! I know this is a week does not have many good college football games, but this matchup is the lowest of the low. The only positive about having to care about this game is I get to watch USC’s continued demise towards college football irrelevancy. Most college football fans whose team was in the position of USC would stick by their team’s side and support the university to ensure a brighter future for their program, but USC is just full of fake fans so they won’t care about the team or do anything for them unless they are winning.

All the USC fans I know cheer for multiple college programs anyways, so they will just move to whichever of their “teams” are doing well at the time. UCLA has real fans, produce stars (Lonzo Ball), and have supported some of the most successful companies in the world (Big Baller Brand). Give me the Bruins. UCLA, +2.5

TCU @ Baylor (BU -2.0)

Bobby: Uhhhh what are you doing Vegas? Have you seen TCU the past few weeks? The Horned Frog dumpster fire has been in full effect for weeks and at this point it will be a tall task just to make a bowl game. Baylor has been playing better this season and needs this one to lock down their bowl eligibility. The Sailor Bear helmet makes this pick even more solid. Bears roll big. Baylor, -2

Jamison: Durdy’s Lock of the Week. I am not picking them due to Blake’s look good, play good, but the Sailor Bear unis are hard to pass up. This is more of a “see TCU, pick against them”. VEGAS, THIS IS THE THIRD WEEK NOW YOU HAVE NEGLECTED TO REALIZE HOW BAD TCU IS. It has been EASY money picking against them. Baylor by double digits easy at home. Baylor, -2

Blake: For the first time in three years, the Revivalry (Editor’s Note: Can we still call it that?) might actually be a good game. The past three years, TCU has blown the barn doors off of Baylor and its sad for me to think that won’t be the case this year.

Before I break down this years matchup, I want to enlighten the readers on why this is a one of the best rivalries in college football that not many people know about. Before 1910, both TCU and Baylor were located in Waco. However, in March of that year, the TCU campus somehow was “accidentally” burned to the ground. As a future lawyer, I do not like to rush to conclusions, but I am a connect the dots type of guy. At the time, Waco was a small town and there was only room for one university. If I had to guess, one school *cough cough Baylor* got jealous of TCU and decided to sabotage it and burn it down. Well, TCU ended up getting the better end of the deal after the city of Fort Worth offered them fifty acres of land to rebuild their campus and has been on those fifty acres ever since.

Fast forward close to a little less of a century later, there were rumors that when the Big 12 was first created that Baylor made it in over TCU because the Governor of Texas was a Baylor graduate and was influential in getting Baylor in as the 12th school in the newly formed Big 12.  TCU fans have since put that behind them as both schools are on an even playing field and over the past few years TCU has been dominant in the series.

For some reason, I have a feeling that this game is going to be wild. These two teams are going in opposite directions. My Frogs are having the worst season ever, while the Bears are exceeding expectations. However, it’s a rivalry game so you gotta throw out the record books because anything can happen. TCU has been a dumpster fire this year and have broken my heart in every way possible, but for some reason I still hold out hope that we can win this game. The Frogs hate the Bears and the Bears hate the Frogs, it is as simple as that. Give ’em hell tomorrow boys and go Frogs. TCU by a million. TCU, +2

#16 Iowa State @ #15 Texas

Bobby: This is going to be an absolute classic that nobody is going to see simply because it’s on the “2005 Rose Bowl Replay” Network. That really grinds my gears. I know Texas needs to do something substantial with its overpriced, useless, bloated network, but depriving the nation of one of the best games of the Big 12 is a prime reason why the Longhorn Network and its titular intitiution is a cancerous cyst on this conference. It damn near killed the conference in 2010 and it only continues to be torn in the side of everyone who is stuck in this stunted disaster of a conference.

Okay, rant over. As for the game, I have no idea what to think of it. Iowa State has been red hot with Brock Purdy at the helm, while Texas has been…less so. The Longhorns have shown life after staving off an upset bid in Lubbock and I assume will show up strong on senior night. However, I’m going with the hot team here in the Cyclones, even though they let me down last week failing to cover for the first time this season by just half a point. Iowa State, +3

Jamison: I like Texas in Austin. Montgomery being out the first half is going to be huge in impacting Iowa State’s offensive flow. Iowa State is going to need to come up big defensively, which is possible, but I believe they will be fighting from a large gap in the second half. It’d be a great game to watch, if Longhorn Network didn’t snag it. Texas, -3

Blake: WHY IS THIS GAME ONLY ON THE LONGHORN NETWORK?!?! The one Texas game that I actually want to watch this year and of course they put in on the network that nobody has. People in Austin aren’t even able to get the Longhorn Network on their TV, while everyone in Montana has it in their cable package and are trying to get rid of it. Just out of spite, I am picking Iowa State because this stupid network has doomed the future for the Big 12 and all they show (if you can get the channel in the first place) is Rose Bowl reruns from the mid-2000s. Iowa State, +3

Texas Tech @ Kansas State (Tech -6.5)

Bobby: Don’t let the Red Raiders 0-3 record in the past three weeks fool you; Tech isn’t a bad team. Those three games have been dogfights and they haven’t even had Alan Bowman in half of them. While Jett Duffy is not a great QB by any means, I expect them to beat this just awful Kansas State team. Texas Tech, -6.5

Jamison: I picked K-state to cover against Kansas last week in a game they nearly lost. That was rough. I hate betting on K-State so much, and its honestly trash I’ve had to pick them every week. Screw it, give me Jett Duffy and -6.5 to roll over the Wildcats. Not a big fan of Tech without Bowman, but they showed some optimism and flash at the end of that Texas game. Texas Tech, -6.5

Blake: Hehehehehe Crowleyman cashing in on his spot-on analysis with how Kansas was going to beat (Ed.: cover against) this K-State team. Predicting Kansas State to lose that game (Ed: not cover) was as easy as predicting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. When I saw this spread, I immediately burst into tears laughing because Vegas obviously has not learned that the Wildcats cannot beat anyone. Texas Tech could play with five players and still put a fifty burger on this team. The Raiders are my lock of the century in this game because honestly Vegas is just giving people money with this spread. Bet all of West Texas on this game. Texas Tech, -6.5

#9 West Virginia @ Oklahoma State (WVU -5)

Bobby: Look, I fully get the temptation to pick Oklahoma State here. The Cowboys are riding high after a near upset of Oklahoma and West Virginia might be looking ahead to their game next week against those same Sooners; this should be a classic trap game. With that being said, this line is simply too low. The Mountaineers might struggle in this, but they are going to pull this one out by at least a touchdown. West Virginia, -5

Jamison: Yes, I agree there should be some upset talk on this matchup due to the Cowboys’ win against Texas in Stillwater. But, for me, I think its either 80% blowout WVU, or an upset; no in-between. The Mountaineers are hot right now, and that’s what puts them over the top. If they look past this game to OU, that’s where they’d find trouble. West Virginia, -5

Blake: I don’t want to touch this game with a ten-foot pole, but I know I have to because of this column. OSU has been the strangest team this year. At one point I thought they would not make a bowl, but then they beat Texas and were a two-point conversion away from beating OU last week. I have no idea what type of performance this team is going to put up and Russian Roulette is more predictable than betting on this OSU team. I guess I’ll go West Virginia? I do not like this one bit, but I think West Virginia is the better team. West Virginia, -5

Kansas @ #6 Oklahoma (OU -36.5)

Bobby: The best advice I can give to you here: stay far, far away from this. High lines are always hard to figure out with this OU team and considering this is a game where absolutely no injuries can be risked, expect to see the starters pulled early. However, this KU team will be so hapless against the Sooner offense that I still can see a cover. Eh, why not. Oklahoma, -36.5

Jamison: Hate this pick again. It is relying a lot that OU’s defense can step up and hold KU to 10ish-20ish points. In the past, that would be laughable, but our defense has hit a farther rock bottom than we every thought was plausible. I am HOPING OU’s defense will look as they did vs. FAU this game, and hold KU to around 13. OU 52-13. Oklahoma, -36.5

Blake: KANSAS HIRED LES MILES!!! (Ed.: Allegedly) This is awesome for the Big 12 and the only thing that could make this better is if somehow Tech brought back Mike Leach. Kansas might become a unit in the conference, which is scary to think about. I think the Jayhawks will be fired up by the fact that they have for the first time an actual coach that understands football. Even though he won’t be coaching this season, I think the Jayhawks will be excited to show their new coach what they got (or don’t got) when OU routes them this weekend. I think this excitement will get them the cover. Kansas, +36.5